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Packaging Corporation of America is facing $185,560 in fines for 30 safety violations, after a worker suffered severe burns while attempting to relight a steam boiler at its Tomahawk, WI, pulp and paper mill in March, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Based in Lake Forest, IL, Packaging Corporation of America manufactures paper and cardboard boxes.

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“Past explosions arising from similar hazards by this employer have led to tragic incidents. In this case, failing to prevent the ignition of flammable vapors and provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment is another preventable misstep that has led to serious injuries,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton, WI. “Packaging Corporation of America must take its responsibility to identify the hazards that exist in its facilities seriously and take necessary precautions to prevent injuries and illnesses.”

In 2012, a steam and ash release triggered by fly ash at the Tomahawk plant fatally injured two contractors. In 2008, three workers died and another injured during an explosion in the storage area. The company employs 440 workers at the Tomahawk facility and 8,700 corporatewide at facilities in 30 states. The company faced 46 violations nationwide in the past five years; the Tomahawk mill accounts for six of those violations, which stemmed from the 2008 incident, and one violation in 2012.

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In this investigation, seven repeat safety violations include lack of machine guarding; not providing a suitable eyewash station for workers exposed to corrosive substances; electrical safety hazards, such as legibly marking circuit breakers; using compressed air at greater than 30 pounds per square inch for cleaning purposes; and improperly labeling containers of hazardous materials. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer faced the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company faced the same violations at other U.S. locations.

The company received citations for 17 serious safety violations including inadequate precautions to prevent ignition of flammable vapors and require usage of appropriate personal protective equipment to protect against burns; inadequate or lack of adequate guarding on wall openings, floor holes and open-sided platforms; lack of machine guarding on various pieces of equipment, including planers, saws and shafts; lack of machine warning lights; and improperly stored oxygen and gas cylinders. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Additionally, six other-than-serious citations were for poor housekeeping, not marking confined spaces with signage, failing to post load capacities of storage areas, not labeling web sling capacity and failing to have individuals identified on lockout devices. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

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